March 7, 1998 in Sports

Reaching For The Crown Panthers, Warriors Vie For Rookie Of Year

By The Spokesman-Review
 

There’s a first time for everything, as Valley Christian and Chief Leschi continued to prove Friday.

The 56th boys State B Basketball Tournament is guaranteed a new-look champion after tourney first-timers Valley Christian and Chief Leschi won the evening’s semifinals at the Arena.

After Leschi manhandled St. John-Endicott 64-43 and Valley Christian rallied past Curlew 66-58, veteran fans tried to remember a first-timer winning the title during the tourney’s 40-year run in Spokane. The answer for the moment appears to be Grand Coulee, in 1960.

But few could give a dam about Grand Coulee as they pondered a matchup between two private schools with winning streaks of 13.

Valley Christian (25-2) of Spokane preaches team play, goes seven deep, and its leaders change night to night.

Leschi (24-3) is a Puyallup school whose team makeup is diverse, its offensive talents eye-opening, and has a playing style that tends to be more free-spirited.

But Valley Christian, still flying from Friday’s rally over Curlew, will consider all that today. The Panthers haven’t watched other teams during the tourney.

“I feel like our focus is to do what we have to do,” said Valley Christian coach Steve Altmeyer, back in the championship game for the first time since his ‘81 title with Willapa Valley. “You could spend too much time watching the other people.”

Curlew (23-7) has spent too much time watching the Panthers during the last week. The Cougars lost to Valley Christian 65-62 at the District 7 tournament and couldn’t protect Friday’s 43-34 lead with 5 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Michael Spuler-led Panthers rallied with a 22-6 run, including a 10-0 streak that lasted 6 minutes. Spuler scored 10 during the run, but was as important with defense and assists.

Curlew, which used its starting five for at least 26 minutes each, couldn’t counter Valley Christian’s depth.

“We don’t count our chickens before they’re hatched, believe me,” said Curlew coach Steve Brown. “Free throws, rebounds and turnovers hurt us tonight.”

The Panthers owned a 40-28 rebounding edge, with 14 by Derek Sandin and 13 by Eric Smith.

“They were ranked No. 1 in the state,” Spuler said of Curlew’s early-season standing in the poll. “We only had two losses, so we’d see them at the top and thought we could take them down.”

Leschi senior center Jonathan Redding inflicted the major damage in the early semifinal, tying a tournament record with 10 blocked shots while adding 17 rebounds and 14 points. Garrett Zwar also blocked 10 when his Pateros team won the title two years ago.

Redding deflected shots, then credit for the win, saying the Warriors’ high-powered offense begins and ends with guards Michael Richardson and Borin Lach.

“Our guards have put in a lot of work,” said Redding, 6-foot-7. “Our guards are great. I’m loving them.”

SJE (22-6), the District 9 champions, stayed with the Warriors until midway through the third quarter, when Lamont Trent scored on a fastbreak and Lach hit a basket and 3-pointer for a 40-27 lead. Leschi led by double digits the rest of the way.

“For us, it’s always been the third quarter,” said Warriors coach Michael Bradley. “If we’re going to put a team away, it has to be in the third quarter.”

Redding had consecutive baskets off offensive rebounds to help close the first half with a 6-0 run and 29-22 Warriors lead.

Junior center Lamont Trent added 20 points on 10-for-15 shooting for the Warriors, who are powered by four senior starters.

“We were way stronger than they were inside,” Bradley said. “It’s definitely the best game we’ve played at state. Our intensity really picked up.”

Eagles junior guard Grant Bafus scored 11 of his 22 in the first quarter.

“Today they were the better team, at each position,” said St. John-Endicott coach Darrell Miller, formerly of Willapa Valley. “They were bigger and stronger, and just wore us down. I just can’t believe how well they played.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos

MEMO: These 3 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. STATE B ONLINE

Track the State B tournaments from the opening tips to the championship games on Spokane.net, an online service of The Spokesman-Review. Point your browser to http://www.spokane.net/stateb

2. TODAY’S GAMES

Noon: Darrington (17-10) vs. Odessa (20-10)

1:30 p.m.: St. George’s (22-8) vs. La Conner (23-4)

3 p.m.: St. John-End. (22-6) vs. Curlew (23-7)

9 p.m.: Chief Leschi (24-3) vs. Valley Christian (25-2)

3. Odessa 62 Snohomish Christian 38

Key to the game: The Tigers (20-10) shot 60 percent from the field, topped by Ryan Floch, who hit 10 of 12.

Other highlights: Odessa scored nine straight points for a 23-11 lead that never slipped to less than double digits… . Scott Kramer, 1 of 15 on 3-point attempts in the first two tourney games, hit two early 3s on his way to 10 first-half points… . Floch made five consecutive layups during a span of 2:10 in the third quarter… . J.J. Hudson had 11 rebounds, seven on the offensive end, for the Lions (15-14), who were eliminated.

Snohomish C C 11 3 10 14 - 38

Odessa 18 12 19 13 - 62

SNOHOMISH COUNTY CHRISTIAN - Quinlan 7, Staal 10, Adams 0, Peterson 5, Ripley 4, Hudson 3, Johnson 1, Brotherton 0, Brown 5, Trail 0, Lambert 3, Ash 0. ODESSA - Kramer 14, Weber 0, G Schafer 3, Dart 6, Floch 20, Hardung 1, Jeske 3, Luiten 0, Pitts 3, Z. Schafer 4, Walter 2, Praetorius 6.

Darrington 73 Pateros 58

Key to the game: Junior guard Ned Miller hit seven of his team’s 10 3-pointers as the Loggers (18-10) eliminated the top-ranked Billygoats (24-3), who had tied three tourney scoring records on Thursday.

Other highlights: Miller, with 104 points, and senior Dennis Sherrill (108) passed the century mark for career tournament scoring… . Darrington held Pateros guard Clint Hull to a fourth-quarter basket. Hull, who had averaged 28 points in two games, finished 1 for 14 from the field… . Miller had two 3-pointers during a 25-4 run that boosted the Loggers’ lead to 52-29 late in the third quarter… . Sherrill added 13 rebounds and 5-for-5 shooting from the line… . Senior center Jason Crawley hit 11 of 20 from the field and had 11 rebounds for the Billygoats, who had scored 96 against Pe Ell on Thursday. Crawley, who played briefly for the ‘96 state-champion Billygoats, finished his tourney career with 80 points… . Darrington, third last year, will meet Odessa at today in the game for fifth and eighth.

Pateros 15 10 9 24 - 58

Darrington 14 19 21 19 - 73

PATEROS - Mauk 0, Lopez 2, Sandy 0, Crawley 24, Morales 16, Evans 2, Hull 2, Molkjer 8, Zahn 0, M Stennes 4. DARRINGTON - T Wright 0, S Wright 0, Weidman 0, Bryson 3, Tanner 6, Fromong 4, Buell 0, Miller 25, Rodin 0, Fether 1, Pomeroy 17, Sherrill 17.

St. George’s 59 North Beach 36

Key to the game: Junior forward Tom DePonty hit 11 of 13 free throws for the Dragons (22-8), who used their 26-3 edge at the line to eliminate the Hyaks (20-6).

Other highlights: Senior guard Zach Blume scored 10, including a pair of 3-pointers, when the Dragons seized a 12-point lead in the second quarter… . NB rallied to within two points in the third quarter, but St. George’s responded with a 12-2 run… . DePonty and Dan Dhillon added 10 rebounds each as the smaller Dragons won the battle of the boards 46-39… . St. George’s, the runner-up two years ago, plays La Conner today for fourth and seventh places… . The win assured that all four District 7 teams would place at state.

St George’s 11 17 6 25 - 59

North Beach 13 7 8 8 - 36

ST GEORGE’S - Blume 14, Longinotti 2, Dhillon 7, Taylor 1, Moser 9, Davis 0, Helms 0, DePonty 14, Spencer 7, Yi 1, Witherspoon 3, Thomsen 1.

NORTH BEACH - Carlson 12, Killian 0, McGregor 0, Yogt 0, Sage 0, Wilkinson 3, Ferguson 7, Lilja 5, Bohrn 3, Wilson 0, Locke 0, Goldman 6.

La Conner 46 DeSales 38

Key to the game: Junior guard Andy Otis hit consecutive baskets for a 40-34 lead to start the fourth quarter and the Braves (23-4) held the Irish (20-6) scoreless for the last 4:48 of the afternoon’s final loser-out game.

Other highlights: Otis hit two 3-pointers and Dane Lundberg added another as the Braves staked themselves to a 20-11 lead… . DeSales rallied when junior post Scott Zea scored eight in the second quarter… . Zea finished 8 of 12 from the field… . La Conner used just six players… . Richard Koss added 11 rebounds and Lundberg seven assists as the Braves put themselves in position for their third-best finish in 30 state appearances… . Senior Joe Levens, bound for Eastern Washington University to play football, had seven assists for the Irish, who competed at state for the first time in 43 years… . DeSales didn’t shoot a free throw.

La Conner 17 9 10 10 -46

DeSales 9 12 13 4 - 38

LA CONNER - Stephens 0, Lundberg 7, Nystrom 7, Otis 15, Odell 11, Koss 6, DeSALES - Lindgren 15, Levens 5, Heinzman 0, Stanley 2, Wolfram 0, Barry 0, Zea 16, Michels 0, C Baffney 0.

Chief Leschi 64 St. John-Endicott 43

Key to the game: Jonathan Redding, a 6-7 senior post who tied a tourney record with 10 blocked shots, and the rest of the Warriors (24-3) were too big inside for the Eagles (22-6).

Other highlights: Redding tied the record set by Garrett Zwar of Pateros in ‘96 against Garfield-Palouse… . Redding added 17 rebounds and 14 points for his second triple-double of the year… . Before halftime, Redding hit back-to-back baskets off offensive rebounds for a 27-22 lead, the largest edge in a game that had seen six ties and five lead changes… . Junior guard Grant Bafus scored 11 in the first quarter and had 19 of SJE’s first 32 points.

SJE 15 7 8 13 - 43

Chief Leschi 13 16 15 20 - 64

ST. JOHN-ENDICOTT - Shawgo 0, Miller 0, Ja.Siler 0, Bafus 22, Strader 0, Stoner 0, Hames 4, Scheuerman 9, Thompson 0, Jo.Siler 4, Stolmeier 4.

CHIEF LESCHI - Brown 4, I.Richardson 0, M.Richardson 4, Lach 15, Bradley 0, Johns 5, Redding 14, McCloud 2, Trent 20, Frances 0.

Valley Christian 66 Curlew 58

Key to the game: The Panthers (25-2) won their 13th consecutive game, and a spot in tonight’s final against Chief Leschi, by holding the Cougars (23-7) scoreless for 6 minutes in the second half.

Other highlights: Curlew led 43-34 with 5:31 left in the third quarter when VC began a 22-6 run that kept them ahead by four or more from then on… . The Panthers hit 16 of 18 free throws, with Michael Spuler and Derek Sandin combining to go 10 for 10… . Sandin and Eric Smith teamed for 27 rebounds, one less than Curlew’s team… . Spuler scored 20 and ignited the winning rally with assists and steals… . Curlew’s Erich Prazak, limited to one point when the teams met at district, scored 19.

Curlew 14 19 16 9 - 58

Valley Christian 16 12 20 18 - 66

CURLEW - G.Olsen 14, Groth 10, Edwards 6, J.B. Olsen 2, Prazak 19, Cribby 7. VALLEY CHRISTIAN - J.Decker 0, Smith 15, Spuler 20, Sears 9, B.Decker 2, Evans 7, Sandin 13.

Attendance: 8,385 (night session); 12,938 (Friday); 36,813 (three days).

These 3 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. STATE B ONLINE Track the State B tournaments from the opening tips to the championship games on Spokane.net, an online service of The Spokesman-Review. Point your browser to http://www.spokane.net/stateb

2. TODAY’S GAMES Noon: Darrington (17-10) vs. Odessa (20-10) 1:30 p.m.: St. George’s (22-8) vs. La Conner (23-4) 3 p.m.: St. John-End. (22-6) vs. Curlew (23-7) 9 p.m.: Chief Leschi (24-3) vs. Valley Christian (25-2)

3. Odessa 62 Snohomish Christian 38 Key to the game: The Tigers (20-10) shot 60 percent from the field, topped by Ryan Floch, who hit 10 of 12. Other highlights: Odessa scored nine straight points for a 23-11 lead that never slipped to less than double digits… . Scott Kramer, 1 of 15 on 3-point attempts in the first two tourney games, hit two early 3s on his way to 10 first-half points… . Floch made five consecutive layups during a span of 2:10 in the third quarter… . J.J. Hudson had 11 rebounds, seven on the offensive end, for the Lions (15-14), who were eliminated. Snohomish C C 11 3 10 14 - 38 Odessa 18 12 19 13 - 62 SNOHOMISH COUNTY CHRISTIAN - Quinlan 7, Staal 10, Adams 0, Peterson 5, Ripley 4, Hudson 3, Johnson 1, Brotherton 0, Brown 5, Trail 0, Lambert 3, Ash 0. ODESSA - Kramer 14, Weber 0, G Schafer 3, Dart 6, Floch 20, Hardung 1, Jeske 3, Luiten 0, Pitts 3, Z. Schafer 4, Walter 2, Praetorius 6.

Darrington 73 Pateros 58 Key to the game: Junior guard Ned Miller hit seven of his team’s 10 3-pointers as the Loggers (18-10) eliminated the top-ranked Billygoats (24-3), who had tied three tourney scoring records on Thursday. Other highlights: Miller, with 104 points, and senior Dennis Sherrill (108) passed the century mark for career tournament scoring… . Darrington held Pateros guard Clint Hull to a fourth-quarter basket. Hull, who had averaged 28 points in two games, finished 1 for 14 from the field… . Miller had two 3-pointers during a 25-4 run that boosted the Loggers’ lead to 52-29 late in the third quarter… . Sherrill added 13 rebounds and 5-for-5 shooting from the line… . Senior center Jason Crawley hit 11 of 20 from the field and had 11 rebounds for the Billygoats, who had scored 96 against Pe Ell on Thursday. Crawley, who played briefly for the ‘96 state-champion Billygoats, finished his tourney career with 80 points… . Darrington, third last year, will meet Odessa at today in the game for fifth and eighth. Pateros 15 10 9 24 - 58 Darrington 14 19 21 19 - 73 PATEROS - Mauk 0, Lopez 2, Sandy 0, Crawley 24, Morales 16, Evans 2, Hull 2, Molkjer 8, Zahn 0, M Stennes 4. DARRINGTON - T Wright 0, S Wright 0, Weidman 0, Bryson 3, Tanner 6, Fromong 4, Buell 0, Miller 25, Rodin 0, Fether 1, Pomeroy 17, Sherrill 17.

St. George’s 59 North Beach 36 Key to the game: Junior forward Tom DePonty hit 11 of 13 free throws for the Dragons (22-8), who used their 26-3 edge at the line to eliminate the Hyaks (20-6). Other highlights: Senior guard Zach Blume scored 10, including a pair of 3-pointers, when the Dragons seized a 12-point lead in the second quarter… . NB rallied to within two points in the third quarter, but St. George’s responded with a 12-2 run… . DePonty and Dan Dhillon added 10 rebounds each as the smaller Dragons won the battle of the boards 46-39… . St. George’s, the runner-up two years ago, plays La Conner today for fourth and seventh places… . The win assured that all four District 7 teams would place at state. St George’s 11 17 6 25 - 59 North Beach 13 7 8 8 - 36 ST GEORGE’S - Blume 14, Longinotti 2, Dhillon 7, Taylor 1, Moser 9, Davis 0, Helms 0, DePonty 14, Spencer 7, Yi 1, Witherspoon 3, Thomsen 1. NORTH BEACH - Carlson 12, Killian 0, McGregor 0, Yogt 0, Sage 0, Wilkinson 3, Ferguson 7, Lilja 5, Bohrn 3, Wilson 0, Locke 0, Goldman 6.

La Conner 46 DeSales 38 Key to the game: Junior guard Andy Otis hit consecutive baskets for a 40-34 lead to start the fourth quarter and the Braves (23-4) held the Irish (20-6) scoreless for the last 4:48 of the afternoon’s final loser-out game. Other highlights: Otis hit two 3-pointers and Dane Lundberg added another as the Braves staked themselves to a 20-11 lead… . DeSales rallied when junior post Scott Zea scored eight in the second quarter… . Zea finished 8 of 12 from the field… . La Conner used just six players… . Richard Koss added 11 rebounds and Lundberg seven assists as the Braves put themselves in position for their third-best finish in 30 state appearances… . Senior Joe Levens, bound for Eastern Washington University to play football, had seven assists for the Irish, who competed at state for the first time in 43 years… . DeSales didn’t shoot a free throw. La Conner 17 9 10 10 -46 DeSales 9 12 13 4 - 38 LA CONNER - Stephens 0, Lundberg 7, Nystrom 7, Otis 15, Odell 11, Koss 6, DeSALES - Lindgren 15, Levens 5, Heinzman 0, Stanley 2, Wolfram 0, Barry 0, Zea 16, Michels 0, C Baffney 0.

Chief Leschi 64 St. John-Endicott 43 Key to the game: Jonathan Redding, a 6-7 senior post who tied a tourney record with 10 blocked shots, and the rest of the Warriors (24-3) were too big inside for the Eagles (22-6). Other highlights: Redding tied the record set by Garrett Zwar of Pateros in ‘96 against Garfield-Palouse… . Redding added 17 rebounds and 14 points for his second triple-double of the year… . Before halftime, Redding hit back-to-back baskets off offensive rebounds for a 27-22 lead, the largest edge in a game that had seen six ties and five lead changes… . Junior guard Grant Bafus scored 11 in the first quarter and had 19 of SJE’s first 32 points. SJE 15 7 8 13 - 43 Chief Leschi 13 16 15 20 - 64 ST. JOHN-ENDICOTT - Shawgo 0, Miller 0, Ja.Siler 0, Bafus 22, Strader 0, Stoner 0, Hames 4, Scheuerman 9, Thompson 0, Jo.Siler 4, Stolmeier 4. CHIEF LESCHI - Brown 4, I.Richardson 0, M.Richardson 4, Lach 15, Bradley 0, Johns 5, Redding 14, McCloud 2, Trent 20, Frances 0.

Valley Christian 66 Curlew 58 Key to the game: The Panthers (25-2) won their 13th consecutive game, and a spot in tonight’s final against Chief Leschi, by holding the Cougars (23-7) scoreless for 6 minutes in the second half. Other highlights: Curlew led 43-34 with 5:31 left in the third quarter when VC began a 22-6 run that kept them ahead by four or more from then on… . The Panthers hit 16 of 18 free throws, with Michael Spuler and Derek Sandin combining to go 10 for 10… . Sandin and Eric Smith teamed for 27 rebounds, one less than Curlew’s team… . Spuler scored 20 and ignited the winning rally with assists and steals… . Curlew’s Erich Prazak, limited to one point when the teams met at district, scored 19. Curlew 14 19 16 9 - 58 Valley Christian 16 12 20 18 - 66 CURLEW - G.Olsen 14, Groth 10, Edwards 6, J.B. Olsen 2, Prazak 19, Cribby 7. VALLEY CHRISTIAN - J.Decker 0, Smith 15, Spuler 20, Sears 9, B.Decker 2, Evans 7, Sandin 13. Attendance: 8,385 (night session); 12,938 (Friday); 36,813 (three days).

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